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Predictions of the Future...From the 1960s 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the house-of-tomorrow dept.
kkleiner writes "Jetpacks, flying cars, death rays — the future isn't quite what the past hoped it would be. Of course, when predictions do come true it can be really shocking. Check out some of the more entertaining and eye-opening videos that show classic predictions from the 1960s. The Jet Age couldn't imagine the Age of Social Media clearly, but they got a few things right. And many more hilariously wrong."
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Predictions of the Future...From the 1960s

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  • Images of the future (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drolli (522659) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:50AM (#36832542) Journal

    Usually say more about the hopes and fears than about what will be. The Background of the 60s was the cold war. In the same way the background of the 90s lead to overly optimistic images of the future.

    • by toQDuj (806112)

      Yes, and the fact that too many people went into banking seeking to make a quick buck. If you want the future to come about, you better start doing science. Stop watching Robotech/Macross/Star Trek and put some effort into making it so!

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I can't agree with the premise of TFA, although I agree with your "hopes and fears". As a teenager in the '60s the 21st century was science fiction, and it's here -- and more and better than the writers imagined. Take Star Trek; I was 14 when it came on the air. Doors that opened by themselves, flat screen voice activated computers, communicators, McCoy's sick bay were all fantasies that we'd never see in our lifetimes. Now every supermarket door opens by itself, Windows comes with voice activation "out of

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:56AM (#36832556)

    The House of the Future was funded by Monsanto who now is a scarily powerful biotech and genetically modified food conglomerate but who in the 1960s was all about plastics.

    So nothing really changed.

  • by SomethingOrOther (521702) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:06AM (#36832588) Homepage
    Arthur C Clarkes "Profiles of the Future" is the last word on this.
    First published in 1962, it's predictions are amazingly accurate. It is a must for any geek bookshelf and I'm amazed so few have read it.

    The (few!) things he did get wrong, he followed up in later editions of the book along with good explanations as to why that particular technology came about sooner / later than he predicted.

    There is an excellent article about the book given in the Guardian Newspaper
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/mar/04/profiles-future-arthur-clarke-review [guardian.co.uk]
    It is a fun book, much recommended.

    I'd post a link to Amazon..... but I'd rather you buy a copy from your local independent bookshop :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd post a link to Amazon..... but I'd rather you buy a copy from your local independent bookshop :-)

      I wouldn't, so here is a link to buy it on Amazon [amazon.com].

      • Thanks - I like Amazon. It's useful for browsing sample pages and reading reviews before buying elsewhere.

        • by rbrausse (1319883)

          you mean like a local independent bookshop where you can flip through the pages?

          • Yeah, just like that - except you don't have to spend 10+ minutes in travel time just to skim the pages of a single book your interested in. And Amazon is open before 11am and after 5pm. But besides that, yeah, just like a local independent bookshop.

          • by Rob Riggs (6418)
            The book reviews in my local independent book store are all done by the people trying to sell the books. They are not exactly unbiased. (Or, more accurately, they are not reviewed by many people with a wide variety of biases some of which I may share.)
    • I ask because that is the one technology that nobody ever seemed to have predicted, and of course one of the biggest in terms of changing how things are done. While people certainly predicted wider networking of computers it was always in the context of systems you'd connect to. I have never seen an author that predicted a global network that everything could connect to, through which any and all information could flow.

      Just wondering since you are right that he tended to be more on target with things than m

      • FTFA:

        [Clarke] recalled that EM Forster, in a 1909 short story The Machine Stops, "pictured our remote descendants as living in isolated cells, scarcely ever leaving them, but being able to establish instant TV contact with anyone, anywhere else on Earth." Are we there yet?

        Sounds close enough to me.

        • by Shivetya (243324)

          he just did realize that those isolated cells were our parents basement and our instant contact was through our avatars while playing mmorpgs

      • by kmdrtako (1971832)

        I ask because that is the one technology that nobody ever seemed to have predicte,...

        No, not directly. But there were many predictions of things like "shopping from home using your videophone" or groceries delivered automatically after your refrigerator ordered them from the supermarket -- things that implicitly or indirectly predicted the internet.

        On the other hand nobody (here in the US) would have stuck his or her neck out and predicted power companies shutting off your appliances during the day to prevent brown-outs. It would have been unthinkable to predict that we'd never have enough

        • by Tapewolf (1639955)

          On the other hand nobody (here in the US) would have stuck his or her neck out and predicted power companies shutting off your appliances during the day to prevent brown-outs. It would have been unthinkable to predict that we'd never have enough cheap power to do everything we'd want to do, when we wanted to do it.

          "Make Room, Make Room!" by Harry Harrison, 1966. Kind of butchered into the film 'Soylent Green' (which is made, funnily enough, of soya and lentils and even if it was made of people it was something that people could only afford occasionally as a special treat.

          One thing that struck me last time I read it was that they had embarked on a program to build more nuclear plants, but of course only started doing this when the brown-outs started, and they weren't going to be able to have them online for another

          • by kmdrtako (1971832)

            No doubt lots of other scifi/futurefi 'predicted' power shortfalls and other unhappy stuff. That wasn't really my point. My point was more about lookee here, see this newfangled intarwebs, it'll do all sorts o' kewl things AND turn off your AC when voltage on the grid drops kinds of predictions by the likes of Clarke and Kurzweil, or rather the lack of thoughtful predictions about unhappy kinds of things.

            And more to the point, you yourself say in Make Room, Make Room, they don't have smart meters and remote

        • by jbengt (874751)
          I'm not sure about the '60s, but as early as 1980 (when I started my engineering career) it was not uncommon for commercial enterprises to automatically shut down equipment in order of priority when their electrical demand got high. Equipment was shut off by the customer, rather than directly by the electric company; however it was done because rate structures were created by the electric companies that included peak demand charges and time-of-day rates added specifically to encourage lowering of the dema
          • by kmdrtako (1971832)

            Er, well, okay. But the original topic was about predictions made in the 60s.

            A lot had changed by the 80s. And still nobody like Clarke was predicting tech solutions to the impending problems, including the one you describe. And here it is 30 years later and most of us still only have the non-tech, oops, my electric bill is going through the roof, I'm going to turn down/off the A/C solution.

      • Actually these predictions were standard fare in nearly all the cyberpunk novels of the 1980's (granted that was much closer to the realization than the 1960s but still well before). Neil Stephenson explored something that was remarkably like the internet in his brilliant Snowcrash and there was a network even MORE like what the internet ultimately became in Diamond Age.
        Neuromancer's prediction was similar to that in Snowcrash. While the VR based internet never happened, the underlying technologies as in Sn

        • by Calydor (739835)

          (the real internet has no central highway by which we reach various sites

          I think Google might like to disagree with you there.

          I admit, I haven't read Snowcrash though I've meant to many times, so I'm not sure exactly how this central highway worked in the book, but considering how bad it is for a company to get their site de-listed from Google for gaming the rankings I have to say that if the internet has anything you can call a central highway, Google would be it.

        • Try: John Brunner's The Jagged Orbit from 1969, world-wide networking pervading all aspects of life. it also features a corporate cartel controlling America. It is too bad the future turned out to be a dystopian novel.

      • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 21, 2011 @08:07AM (#36833260) Journal

        The Internet has been predicted quite a few times. Off the top of my head, Mark Twain:

        http://thetyee.ca/Books/2007/01/08/MarkTwain/ [thetyee.ca]

        Also I found this article on the topic, although the comments are far more interesting than the article itself:

        http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2011/03/who-said-science-fiction-never-predicted-the-internet/ [sfsignal.com]

      • by edremy (36408)

        I ask because that is the one technology that nobody ever seemed to have predicted, and of course one of the biggest in terms of changing how things are done. While people certainly predicted wider networking of computers it was always in the context of systems you'd connect to. I have never seen an author that predicted a global network that everything could connect to, through which any and all information could flow.

        Just wondering since you are right that he tended to be more on target with things than most people. He seemed to grasp that while technology changes, humans by and large don't.

        John Brunner, 1975, The Shockwave Rider. A lot of the way things work he missed (access via a telephone using a special code) but he pretty much got the rest of it, down to the idea you could cripple the government through cyberwarfare

      • Here is a prediction from 1936

        A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.

                (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 202)

        • by tibit (1762298)

          What a great find, thank you! Short of calling it internet, he got it perfectly right.

    • by gnalre (323830)

      I seem to remember that James Burke(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Burke_%28science_historian%29) did similar predictions in his tomorrow world books, but since I last read them when I was about 10 I can't remember much about them. I'm sure one was that pavements would be replaced by moving walkways by know.

      If anyone has a copy or if Mr J.Burke is reading I would be fascinated to know how they turned out...

      • by delinear (991444)
        Well we only replaced the ground with moving walkways in a few places, but we do have the Segway, which is a more personalised version of the same concept.
    • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @07:56AM (#36833212)

      I'd post a link to Amazon..... but I'd rather you buy a copy from your local independent bookshop

      Who will, in turn merely place an order with Amazon and charge you a premium for your laziness.

    • by Tokolosh (1256448)

      When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
      Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's first law
      English physicist & science fiction author

      Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
      Niels Bohr

  • I keep going back to these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MnQ8EkwXJ0 [youtube.com]

    I'm surprised how many of them came true. But the thing that really strikes me? The few predictions that *didn't* come true weren't actual TECHNICAL failures. They're marketing and demand failures. The technology to do most of the "of the future!" videos (flying cars being the obvious exception) actually exists. It's just that people really weren't willing to pay for it.

    • by Sique (173459)

      Flying cars are no exeption, the technology is there, it's just that people really aren't willing to pay for it.

      • by yarnosh (2055818)
        Either that or having thousands of semi-trained pilots flying around major cities is just not a good idea. :-)
    • Well you have to remember that is not nearly as far out. The farther you predict, the harder things are. The technology for what they were talking about, the basics, existed when they made the videos. The Internet was around in 1993, digital cellular and thus data (though slow) was around in 1993 (launched in 1991), and so on. Their predictions mostly dealt with the technology getting better, which is a fairly safe prediction.

      The more interesting predictions are one that are based on a new technology being

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:34AM (#36832688) Homepage Journal

    It shows the wife sitting at the console ordering her clothes, and then the husband paying for it at his console. Sounds about right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nyctopterus (717502)

      What the fuck is it with slashdotters and this endlessly sexist shit? It makes me wonder what sort of women you're a all hooked up with... then I remember: pretend ones.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They're called JOKES.

      • by Binestar (28861)
        Exactly. Women today don't let the men keep their money long enough to pay. They get it directly from the bank accounts with their debit/credit cards.
      • by ScentCone (795499)

        What the fuck is it with slashdotters and this endlessly sexist shit?

        Well, there's two ways to look at it: stuff's funny when it has an element of truth to it ... and like it or not, that observation simply does.

        Secondly, what is it with overly sensitive people who can't take a damn joke? It's weariness with precisely that sort of pouting, unctuous, faux gender-issues piety that makes people even more inclined to toss out jokes like that.

    • You may find this funny but it isn't. How many little girls grew up with that sexist mentality and so didn't make discoveries?. How many of the interesting technologies in TFA weren't made because some little girl instead of becoming a scientist or an engineer became a housewife or a secretary because she was told just this sort of sexist bullshit? How many cures for diseases have been lost because of young ladies who grew up being told that they couldn't do math? And how many interesting business models wo
      • Just like me, because I kept hearing the jokes about men being lazy, I never bothered to get an education, and now all the technological progress that could have been made by men will be lost. ):

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:43AM (#36832716)

    I can't believe how much people predict that housing will change, even now, when it is real clear that humans like what they like and we build our houses accordingly. You see things set in the future and houses are radically different, and yet I've been in houses built in 1900 and built in 2011 and there is a hell of a lot more similar than different. Style changes a bit, but things are not radically redone.

    Also they never seem to take in to account that houses last a long time. I live in a house built in 1974, and that is not at all unusual. Now while some of it has been modified since its construction, there are some fundamental things that remain, and yet don't seem "weird" or "old fashion" to people who see it because a 30+ year old house is not at all a strange sight.

    That one has always cracked me up and continues to do so, that somehow in a couple decades we'll furnish houses in a style totally different from now.

    • Correct. They've yet to evict me from my cave -- You basement-dwellers know what I mean.
    • My house was built in 1930 but my wife and I extended it in 2004. One thing which has changed in Australian houses is that modern homes put the kitchen in a more prominent location closer to the front. In the past the kitchen seemed to be hidden away out the back. In many houses now it seems to be the focus of all activity. Stronger materials also enable structures to have larger spans at a reasonable price, so there are fewer walls and rooms are bigger.

      • by Sique (173459) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @06:48AM (#36832936) Homepage

        That's a remnant from the british houses, where the kitchen was close to the garden to use the herbs und fruits growing there. Now with most food being bought at the supermarket, the kitchen moves to the front door, so you don't have to carry your purchases through the whole house.

        • Houses in the US generally have the kitchen in the back. I was told it was for privacy reasons. One friends house has it in the front which was considered odd.
        • by jbengt (874751)
          Kitchens were for a time in the back, separated from the rest of the house, because they were hot and potentially messy. You entertained guests in the parlor and ate in the dining room. Now with air conditioning, modern appliances, and the desire of the cook to be not so isolated, kitchens are often open to the rest of the house.
          And here, in the USA, groceries are usually brought in through the back door or the garage, not the front door.
        • by westlake (615356)

          That's a remnant from the british houses, where the kitchen was close to the garden to use the herbs und fruits growing there.

          The natural gas or electric range meant a kitchen without a wood or coal fire. Gasoline or fuel oil in later years. That brought about a vast improvement in cleanliness, comfort and safety.

          The American middle class home in the mid 1020s - the Sears kit home, for example - placed the kitchen and ice box in back, ideally so deliveries could be made without entry into the house.

          There are many barrriers to constructing a non-traditional home.

          Your neignbors are unsympathetic to the idea. Banks are reluctant

          • by tibit (1762298)

            At least in the U.S., banks don't care at all how the house will look, and whether it's "traditional" or not. I don't think most banks' mortgage units have anyone competent to make heads or tails out of architectural plans as part of their job. All the bank cares about is that the construction is done legally -- with permits and approved plans. I doubt it's any different elsewhere in the world, although I'd like to stand corrected.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          People are moving back to gardening, but that's OK, because actually, plenty of kitchens are more closely accessible from someplace other than the front door. (In the house I'm in now, the front door DOES go to the kitchen, but then you have to orbit the island, so it's barely better than a wash.)

      • The other major change in Aussie homes is that I haven't seen a "pan man" since I was a kid in the 60's.
      • by jbengt (874751)
        I always thought fewer walls was to make the spaces seem larger, but mostly to eliminate the cost of building the walls.
    • by cvtan (752695)
      My house was built in 1928. The Monsanto vision gets one thing spectacularly wrong. People now regard plastic as cheap and ugly rather than sleek and futuristic. Everyone wants granite counter tops and real wood. Real ceramic dishes instead of space-age Corelle. If I suggest remodeling the bathroom using plastic and fiberglass? Well, just forget it. I've learned how to repair cracks in plaster walls and am working on a claw-foot tub...
      • Oddly enough I prefer Corelle over most ceramic dishes, lighter, thinner, take up less room in the cabinet. Granted I much prefer Bone China over anything else, but for everyday use you would have to pry the Corelle out of my cold dead hands.
        • I agree. Corelle is really nice and practical - a superior material in almost every respect. Also melamine table ware - very popular in the 50s and 60s is very nice and durable. I have pieces from the set my family used in the early 1960s, in daily use for 50 years, and expanded the set by buying original pieces on eBay recently.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        It's too common and too cheap. Napoleon used to serve his most distinguished guests on aluminium platters, the lesser guests on gold. Granite counter tops are nice, but they're more for the aesthetics and bling than because people actually need granite.

      • by jbengt (874751)
        I was around in the '60s, when the Monsanto video was made. And plastic was regarded as cheap and ugly back then, more so than it is now. Don't confuse a marketing message with an opinion poll.
    • Worse - some of the old buildings are actually better. I have lost count of how many buildings I've been in that didn't have a single right-angle in them, where most of the "walls" were made of plasterboard, where the exterior was breeze-block that you couldn't drill into without destroying it, where the ceilings was polystyrene, where the outside walls had no double-brick construction to combat damp in countries like the UK, where there aren't enough plug-sockets, where the poorly-planned double-glazed wi

      • Most new housing here in the US is being built with sheet rock on the EXTERIOR walls. Why? Because it meets fire code.... and its cheap. Very few new houses have squared walls, its not uncommon to see walls visibly crooked. I can expect it in a house built 100 years ago, but with today's tools?
        • Regarding building materials, the best house I ever lived in was about 300 years old and built from massive sandstone blocks. The thermal mass was incredible - cool in summer, easy to keep heated in winter. Don't need any plaster on the walls, as the pure stone looks awesome. It'll still be standing 300 years from now, I guess. Really loved that place.
    • by Sabriel (134364)

      Part of it is that while materials science has advanced and we have powered versions of the hammer, saw, drill, crane, etcetera, the fundamentals of actually building a house haven't changed: it is still people with tools assembling and joining pieces manually.

      Large-scale 3D printing will change that.

      (of course, people being people, many will probably just use the new technology to build the same old designs)

    • Yeah, it's crazy on the face of it. Especially when it comes to Europe. The UK video predicted radically new housing, even though this would require destroying the majority of every town and city. I think most London housing is over a hundred years old, and mostly it will be slightly modified over the next hundred years, not replaced.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      That Monsanto plastic house was a real joke when it comes to fire safety. I cringe when building codes allow plastic foam (usually polystyrene) ceiling tiles -- in a fire, the first thing that will happen is molten plastic dripping on you as you try to make your escape. But give me a break -- a place where all surfaces will melt when exposed to heat, will support the combustion, and will injure you on contact? WTF? That's perhaps a good example of marketing people who have no real insight into what they're

  • Or is it we (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary,address,for,privacy&gmail,com> on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:43AM (#36832718)

    The Jet Age couldn't imagine the Age of Social Media clearly, but they got a few things right. And many more hilariously wrong.

    Perhaps we are the ones who got it wrong.

    • What is even interesting about "social" media? It is the same stuff people have done since there have been people except now someone is getting paid to provide this "service". Chatting on Facebook isn't conceptually any different from chatting on the phone, or at the cafe. Meeting strangers easily is why people used to go to clubs or dances etc.

      "Social media" is just what people have always done, except now you have to give away personal information and watch ads.

      The communication revolution now allows us t

      • by eggstasy (458692)

        As if people didn't lock themselves up into monocultural groupthinking cliques without the internet ;)

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Chatting on Facebook isn't conceptually any different from chatting on the phone, or at the cafe.

        ... except that this way every advertiser on the planet can eavesdrop on those conversations.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Chatting on Facebook isn't conceptually any different from chatting on the phone, or at the cafe. Meeting strangers easily is why people used to go to clubs or dances etc.

        Actually, it is a little different. Conversations with more than 2 people are extremely rare on telephones; with FB, you post your dumb comments, and then all your acquaintances can read them at their leisure.

        As for meeting strangers, the problem there is that clubs and dances have basically become places for alcoholics and other dysfunct

  • by ribuck (943217) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:43AM (#36832720) Homepage

    Don't forget Google as predicted in 1964 [web-owls.com] in a children's book.

  • It is quite fun to see these old predictions to see where they were right or more often, where they were wrong.

    We just have to remember that our own present day predictions about the world 50 years from now are likely to be as precise as these old 50's and 60's predictions.

  • René Barjavel's Ravage (Ashes, ashes in English) is pretty spot on, if not about specific customs and technologies, then about modes of life in the future. It's set in the 2050s, but the world has already evolved remarkably toward Barjavel's vision. I recommend it for everyone.

  • For 40-50 years of age, those predictions are surprisingly accurate. If you watch carefully, you notice that while they got many details wrong, the basics are mostly correct. While our buildings look nothing like in the background image of the BBC part, for example, they do in fact incorporate many technological advances. The error is only in how visible those are.
    Same with the computers in the first video. While ours today look nothing like those depicted, the functions were largely predicted correctly.

    If

  • Surprisingly accurate in the general sense, but the specific inaccuracies show how much the digital computing stuff has changed how people interface with electronics. Without an operating system to manage tasks, processes and windows, there is a strict "one task = one screen" limit, so they have all these different screens on the desk - and they have to manipulate them with physical buttons, because the mouse hasn't been invented yet.

    It's not the internet or its ubiquity that people failed to foresee when t

    • This is so true. Look at older people. They can figure out the single interface telephone, but as soon as you get context menus (smartphones, websites, GPS car nav) they're in deep water. Mind you, not all of them.

    • Without an operating system to manage tasks, processes and windows, there is a strict "one task = one screen" limit, so they have all these different screens on the desk

      Haven't we been sort of heading back that way over the last few years? In the early 2000s it seemed like soon we'd have a few general-purpose computers that could do anything, and maybe further into the future, just a handheld PC that might dock with different interfaces (the Motorola Atrix is a first step in this direction) but after the iPhone came out devices strangely started to become more specialized again. Now we still have "pocket computer" cell phones, but most people use them more like simple smar

  • ...sadly, the smartest people on this planet have been lured by advertising companies into jobs aimed at attracting eyeballs.

    All the PhDs are now producing software that's about as useful as paperclips and other office disposables.
    And they even seem to be content in doing so.

  • by Lando (9348) <lando2+slash AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 21, 2011 @08:40AM (#36833462) Homepage Journal

    Were they really so certain that keyboards would be done away with in order to go back to a pen based system? Computers with keyboards were out at the time, and while not consumer products, I can't imagine someone familiar with computers not understanding how useful they were/are. The computer I used in the military was designed in 1965, and while severely limited, is still recognizable as a computer. So, their glimpse into the future doesn't really seem to be that significant.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Ironically enough, the military was among the first to embrace pen computing, e.g. the GRiDPad 1910s used for inventory etc.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @10:18AM (#36834350)

    You take what you got, add the human element, add realities of the market and you arrive at what's most likely to happen, barring any catastrophes like global war or a sudden change in the politics.

    Well, when it comes to technology, what do we know about humans and our economy? For one, both hate revolutions and like evolution. Read: We won't get flying cars, we will get more efficient "normal" ones. We won't get quantum computers, just faster "normal" ones. We won't get the house that cleans itself, instead materials will be used that are easier to clean. Don't expect any of the fancy way out things to be implemented. Nobody is going to do the basic research needed for it. Expect a few key elements to change when something gets invented, but the general system stays the same. Today, we have computer controlled carburetors in our cars, no longer mechanic ones. But it's still the same basic technology that relies on some kind of refined oil being exploded to create movement that it was a century ago. No revolution here. We might get to use different materials as oil gets more expensive due to digging for it becoming more expensive and other technologies becoming viable, but I am pretty sure the system stays the same. No hover cars, no personal planes, no jetpacks. Normal cars, maybe with a different engine and better efficiency. The same applies to all technologies: Do not expect something revolutionary to come around, expect that whatever we have today becomes easier to use, cheaper to produce and more versatile and efficient.

    Entertainment will be a big element, most likely. With more and more people having more and more spare time at their hands, it's likely that someone will try to cash in on it. We'll probably get more TV channels, since pushing more channels into cable becomes easier (and cheaper), as well as getting the necessary equipment to start your own TV show. Probably something akin to YouTube will eventually be the staple of TV entertainment. Cheap content. The start is those "reality shows" where you can fill an hour of "entertainment" by paying some redneck hick 500 bucks so he and his family become the country's laughing stock. This will expand: Free content, taken from various media sites. Also already there, at least here we have a show about the "10 best $whatever from $mediapage". I'd expect something like a "YouTube Digest" channel that collects the "best" YouTube videos and rebroadcasts them within the decade.

    Media companies will shift their product towards the online world and put more focus on selling their stories online. I don't really see blogs et al as a big competition to them, even though some blogs might gain a niche importance, to the point of becoming the authority on certain topics when the "real" media pick their stories up and broadcast them. The average Joe might not even know about them, but the media outlets will. They will finally completely turn into "news aggregators", that development can be seen already. Many news stations or newspapers don't research anything anymore but simply reprint whatever blog entry or agency message they come across. And since people who read them are satisfied with this and do apparently not want them to be more than just info collectors and compressors, they will just do that. It's cheaper than researching and it gets the news sold.

    Computers will continue to shrink and become more powerful. Expect that in about 20 years our handhelds will be able to do what our current desktops can do, including graphics and whatnot. Thinking about it, most likely less than 20 years. Here is actually a possibility for a social revolution, depending on how the problem of the tiny display on handhelds is solved. If HMDs become cheap enough to be mass produced and considered as much a throwaway item as cellphones are today, we might witness a big shift in how people interact with each other, and how they perceive the world. Don't expect a machine-brain interface, but having information constantly in front of your eye, especially if this c

  • ...that didn't quite work, click here [paullee.com]
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @12:32PM (#36835698)
    Ubiquitous computing is a computer in every appliance, no mater how trivial (my toaster has one). And a computer in every palm or pocket. Even the Star Trek universe missed this with a giant ship "mainframe" (communicators and tricorders not withstanding).

    Who would think of spending megaflops on graphical human-machine interfaces back int 60s or 70s, except when gigaflops cost dimes now and we'll have personal petaflops in a matter of decades?

    Isaac Asimov anticipated both sides. One story imagines the mainframe evolving into God (The Last Question). Another where people are so dependent on their personal computers than can do arithmetic in their heads anymore.
  • Lack of power (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @12:36PM (#36835752) Homepage

    What went wrong with "the future" was that no new source of energy was developed. Fifty years ago, we had coal, oil, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, wind, wind, biomass, and solar. Which is what we have now. Breeder reactors didn't work. Nuclear power didn't become "too cheap to meter". Fusion didn't work. Solar cells never became really cheap. Solar power satellites were a fantasy.

    In each previous 50-year period back to 1800, there was some huge development that made energy cheaper. But in the last half-century, energy costs went up. This is the primary reason the exuberant energy-intensive future envisioned in the 1950s and 1960s didn't happen.

    Looking ahead, there's nothing in sight that will lead to another era of cheap energy. Over the next fifty years, energy costs will go up and up.

  • by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:38PM (#36838360)

    Bah, for good predictions of the future, it's the Ladies' Home Journal or nothing.

    http://www.paleofuture.com/blog/2007/4/17/what-may-happen-in-the-next-hundred-years-ladies-home-journa.html [paleofuture.com]

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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